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The Rise and Fall of the Geeks -
June 25, 2001 10:36 AM   Subscribe

The Rise and Fall of the Geeks - Three years ago, they had the power to change the world, make a more than decent living and bask on highbrow success - perhaps a justified retribution after many years of world disdain and incomprehension to the geek community. It didn't last... and the article sheds some lights on the probable reasons.
posted by betobeto (34 comments total)

 
> Perhaps it was more like a Geek Moment.

Ahh, back to normal. Do you know, it just felt wrong! I mean, they can throw money at you and take you to lunch at their fancy restaurants and hang on every word you mumble but they just can't argue with you about the One True Indentation Style...
posted by jfuller at 11:04 AM on June 25, 2001


Indeed, back to normal. The article seems to suggest that because the Internet is becoming more popular, mean education is falling and mean age is rising. The internet is starting to look more like the real world. (?? More like AOL's vision of the real world.) Hence, being a geek is uncool. Yeah, geeks are no longer in the majority, back to normal.
posted by rschram at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2001


Despite the fact that (as far as I can tell), it's still only geeks who know how any of this stuff works.

That's actually quite important, you know.
posted by Grangousier at 11:24 AM on June 25, 2001


Technically, I'm not sure that's not true anymore. Actually, if you read the last few paragraphs of Katz' essay, it's not even very important at all:

Yes, the computer revolution changes communication, entertainment and the way business data moves around the earth. But the planet still looks pretty much the same, and it's hard to argue that life is that much better for most of the people on the globe because of the web.

How well (and how gracefully) geeks recover from this "fall" may inform whether they are given the chance for another "Moment," or whether they are doomed to be Outsiders now, forever.
posted by m.polo at 11:42 AM on June 25, 2001


My reaction: Hopefully, this means the media will go away and leave us geeks alone, and we can finally get some work done.
posted by harmful at 11:42 AM on June 25, 2001


Actually, the most disturbing thing about the fall of the dot coms is something that I noticed on CBS' Sunday Morning program yesterday. . . .

Jackets and ties (traditional men's business fashion) are making a comeback.

aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh!

I guess the logic is that if the casual dot commers couldn't make it, maybe we should all go back to choking ourselves with ties.
posted by fpatrick at 11:50 AM on June 25, 2001


ugh... is he still on the geek trip? can't he just go away?
posted by jbelshaw at 11:52 AM on June 25, 2001


> Jackets and ties (traditional men's business fashion) are
> making a comeback.
>
> aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh!

But what could possibly be more geekish than a spotted tie and a striped shirt to complement your pocket protector and duct-taped glasses? (Spotted face semi-optional but expected...)
posted by jfuller at 11:58 AM on June 25, 2001


Jackets and ties (traditional men's business fashion) are making a comeback.

And about frickin time, too. It was starting to look like a damn hippie sit-in down in tech!

Really, you simply can't underestimate the power of a really great suit. I don't mean the drone-blue conformity armor you picked up off the rack at Sears, I mean a well made, tailored, high quality suit, with a crisp, professionally laundered shirt (any color or stripe ok, but eschew the glossy shit, Travolta) a handstitched silk tie, and a really shiny pair of wingtips - I don't mean spit-shiny, but the kind of hard-ass shine that'll make even regular calfskin downright luminous. You put that on, and you can walk into any room in the world - palace or boardroom, parlor or shooting gallery - with style and elan.

I couldn't tell you how many dicey situations I got through on the basis of suit alone :)
posted by UncleFes at 12:40 PM on June 25, 2001


and a really shiny pair of wingtips

Or cowboy boots. Suits look great with cowboy boots. Especially in Calgary.
posted by iceberg273 at 12:42 PM on June 25, 2001


Suits look great with cowboy boots

Gotta be the right suit with the right boots, though. You can't just toss on your cockroach-kickers under a nice bespoke suit.
posted by UncleFes at 1:05 PM on June 25, 2001


You can't just toss on your cockroach-kickers under a nice bespoke suit.

Amen to that. When you put your boots up on the table, they've got to be glossy. Downright luminous, if you will.
posted by iceberg273 at 1:09 PM on June 25, 2001


is that what he looks like?
posted by bison at 1:12 PM on June 25, 2001


the greatest downfall of modern civilization of this "dressing down" business. I'm usually the most dressed up person at any job I might have. I do it because I like dressing.

not only at work; when is the last time you went to the theatre or opera and saw *anyone* dressed up at all? forget the tuxedo; can you find anyone in a suit?

clothes used to be used for celebration, but that seems to be long past. - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2001


Expensive way to celebrate...
posted by preguicoso at 1:33 PM on June 25, 2001


Yeah, that's Katz. Quite the pretty-boy for someone who claims to be down with geekdom!

Geeks aren't allowed to be attractive!
posted by Succa at 1:37 PM on June 25, 2001


What, that's John Katz? Weird, I always imagined a 40-year old dude with a paunch.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 1:43 PM on June 25, 2001


uh, no this is Jon Katz. (the guy in the suit)
posted by jbelshaw at 1:45 PM on June 25, 2001


Expensive way to celebrate...

Nah, you can get a nice microweave suit, charcoal gray or slate blue, at Brooks Brothers for $600-$800. Throw in the trimmings and you're talking $1000 and change. That's less than half a Powerbook, and you'll get good use out of that suit for years after that laptop is long gone.
posted by UncleFes at 1:49 PM on June 25, 2001


yeah suits are cool.

IMO geeks are historically the same as blacksmiths and car mechanics and train engineers.. for a brief time they were Gods holding power over the magic box that no one had seen before. But the mystery is gone. The pretty girl at the dance is just another girl afterall. We are basically just another service industry no diffrent from car repair. If your still young get involved with the next wave before its big and ride yoru career out to unknown heights: bio-anything, nano-anything .. to the few risk takers go the spoils.
posted by stbalbach at 2:20 PM on June 25, 2001


Yeah, more photos of JonKatz. (As opposed, say, to Jonathan Katz, Professional Therapist.

Funny thing was, for the longest time I had this image of him in my mind, but I found out that was actually Josh Quittner, when he had more hair.
posted by dhartung at 2:31 PM on June 25, 2001


Is it just me, or does Jon Katz look like Michael Moore?
posted by UncleFes at 2:44 PM on June 25, 2001


I think it's still cool to be a geek. And honestly, if you're a geek because it's cool at the moment, you're not really a geek. Real geeks don't care about being geeks - they're just in love with what they're doing. They work hard not because that's what geeks do, but because they almost have an orgasm when they get some arcane piece of technology (or whatever they're a geek about) to work.

Mature gals will always love geeks, because geeks have something in their life that they love. How many people in shiny suits can say that they really love their jobs - that they want to get up out of bed and go to work in the morning... that they don't get heartburn every time they think about work?

Personally, I'll always be a geek. There's something about getting your XFree86 configuration on a new box JUST RIGHT at 1 am. There's something about finding that arcane way of doing thing in Perl, or writing a brilliant one-liner. There's something that's fun about walking up to someone on the street, screaming, "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!" in their face, and running away laughing. That's being a geek. I love it. Of course my time in the limelight didn't last - the media will move on to something else... no one really understands geeks, not even geeks themselves, and the media won't pay attention to something they can't explain for long.

I'm glad to be a geek. To echo the words of harmful, above, get out of my cubicle, I've got work to do.
posted by SpecialK at 2:44 PM on June 25, 2001


I like Katz, but... he has a tendency to twist things to fit under some sort of "grand unified theory". True, a lot of these things are a "movement" - but often it seems he hammers thing into a pre-fab mold. Of course, I suppose most writers do this.
posted by owillis at 2:45 PM on June 25, 2001


How many people in shiny suits can say that they really love their jobs - that they want to get up out of bed and go to work in the morning... that they don't get heartburn every time they think about work?

I'm not too zippy getting out of the rack, and I do more than my share of cursing and ashtray-tossing at the office, but I don't have heartburn. I've long ago reconciled that what I do doesn't make me who I am. Lots of people, men especially, have trouble getting over that hump, psychologically.

A suit is different. Suits transcend mere jobs. A suit is about... presentation. It's an exclamation point in a land of dots and back-slashes.
posted by UncleFes at 2:55 PM on June 25, 2001


back on topic, I don't think Katz started to sound a little forced when he left Wired. He did some good work at the Freedom Forum, but lately he's been spotty. I think he's becoming too separated from the subjects of his work.
posted by UncleFes at 2:59 PM on June 25, 2001


you'll get good use out of that suit for years after that laptop is long gone.

Assuming you never undergo significant changes in size or shape, which is a big assumption for many geeks.
posted by kindall at 3:00 PM on June 25, 2001


Nothing of mine fell.
This time, Katz is full of it. After a star novas, it doesn't keep exploding. The outer shell just keeps flying in all directions at some appreciable fraction of the speed of light.
The geeks never inherited the earth; we just control more and more of it. And we're *still* the only ones who understands how it works.
posted by Twang at 3:01 PM on June 25, 2001


Uh, that's "I think Katz started to sound a little forced..."

WHEN will Bill invent a checker that knows what I mean to say??

Assuming you never undergo significant changes in size or shape

Ah! But a suit may be altered... I have a tweed jacket that has followed me from my TA days, I've had that bad boy altered four times, two up and two down.
posted by UncleFes at 3:04 PM on June 25, 2001


Mature gals will always love geeks

Yeah, but that's your mom, dude. For god's sake!
posted by rodii at 3:16 PM on June 25, 2001


"...Jon Katz look like...."

not moore. I glanced at him eating a cheeseburger once. You, ah, you wouldnt like it.
posted by clavdivs at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2001


To reiterate, sort of:

According to the popular media (the cool-defining kind), the definition of a geek is someone who knows how things work, particularly computer things. Normal people just accept that they will work (didn't someone here quote Clarke's Law in this context recently?)

According to the ragbag of Real World that I rub up against, I count as a geek, and I'm still in that stage of thinking that HTML 4 and Java are pretty neat.

No, it's alright. I know they're not really.

But it's a Marxian (or perhaps Huxleyan) nightmare out there - it's cool to consume, scary and strange and a step outside the box to produce, particularly by choice.

In that context, a computer programmer is someone who can set the clock on a video.

But cool?

Cool is dumb.
posted by Grangousier at 3:51 PM on June 25, 2001


This whole geek cult was bullshit from start to finish.

Engineers are engineers, always have been, always will be.
posted by lagado at 4:00 PM on June 25, 2001


If I owned an outfit that cost $1000 I'd be afraid to step outside the house in it. Half a PowerBook is still a hell of a lot of money. There's something unfair about forcing employees to pay for their own uniforms, even if they are unofficial.

I think this Katz article is mostly lacking substance. The whole "geek" thing never much affected me in the first place, and its supposed collapse is just as insubstantial; as far as I can tell, this is all about the now-deflated delusions of a bunch of newswriters. But I'm no more a geek than Katz is, so what do I know?

-Mars (a programmer - not an engineer, not a geek, not a nerd)
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:48 PM on June 25, 2001


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